It happens to all of us – in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day, something strange begins to happen. As much as you try, you cannot ignore it your eyelid is twitching uncontrollably and nothing will make it stop. Eyelid myokymia, more commonly known as lid twitching, is a common, benign occurrence. While it can be annoying, it is typically not indicative of a larger ocular problem.
Myokymia is a general term used to describe a quivering or involuntary movement of a single muscle or muscle group around the eye. It is caused by misfiring of the nerves communicating with the eyelid muscles. The most commonly affected muscles are those that close the lids over the eye called orbicularis, and the superior oblique muscle, which moves the eye down and toward the nose. In the latter case, patients may see double during an attack; in the former, and more common scenario, it is usually a simple twitching in the upper or lower lid. While the twitch feels incredibly pronounced to the sufferer, it is barely perceptible to any observer. This condition can resolve spontaneously, but it can also last up to three weeks and be very annoying.
Frequent contributing factors include too much caffeine, high levels of anxiety, fatigue, stress, overwork, lack of sleep, and nutritional imbalances. Some reports have indicated a lack of potassium or magnesium is to blame. In addition, alcohol consumption may cause lid twitching. This condition usually occurs in healthy individuals and although typically harmless, the twitching should still be assessed by an eye care practitioner.
To help suppress the twitching there are several simple treatment options; placing cold compresses over the eyes, sleeping more, taking oral antihistamines, or increasing your potassium by eating more bananas! Multi-vitamins or vitamin B-12 supplements may help as well. In more persistent or symptomatic cases, topical antihistamines may prolong the refractory period (the time it takes the nerve to signal the muscle to move) thus decreasing symptoms. In many cases, there is a response within 20 minutes. Anecdotally, quinine (found in tonic water) may also help calm this condition. One to two glasses a day for a week is often helpful; however, pregnant women should avoid this approach.
If the twitches persist on a daily basis for two months or longer, they can generally be resolved with a mild muscle relaxant or an injection of Botox. Myokymia that begins with one eyelid, but spreads to include other muscles of the face, requires further investigation. Some forms of eyelid twitching are caused by neurological conditions such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. These conditions are much less common but far more serious and should be evaluated more thoroughly by an eye care physician.
If you have any questions regarding your eye and vision health, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center